Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon” Review Round-Up: A Gripping, Full-Tilt Epic

The review embargo has been lifted for Ridley Scott’s Napoleon, the legendary director’s full-scale take on the life of one of history’s most infamous men. An epic of old-school filmmaking that boasts some of Napoleon’s most famous battles (including the Battle of Toulon and the Battle of Austerlitz), Scott’s film, from a script by David Scarpa, also pays close attention to the most crucial relationship in the French Emperor’s life—his lifelong love of Josephine—which was both a source of inspiration and comfort as well as torment.

Taking on the mantle of Napoleon is Joaquin Phoenix, and according to critics, he’s astonishing, at turns hilarious, haunting, scheming, and ice cold. His co-star, Vanessa Kirby, is coming in for equally lavish praise for her performance as Josephine. Their two performances are reason enough to see Scott’s latest.

“Phoenix, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny and chilling in the same scene, is as compelling as he always is,” writes the London Evening Standard‘s Hamish Macbain, “…But it’s Vanessa Kirby who, much like Ryan Gosling in Barbie, upstages her title character.”

Meanwhile, the full impact of Scott’s film is that of watching a hugely ambitious director set his sights on a historical figure that seems larger than life and fashioning a movie big enough to capture him.

“Scott has created an outrageously enjoyable cavalry charge of a movie, a full-tilt biopic of two and a half hours in which Scott doesn’t allow his troops to get bogged down mid-gallop in the muddy terrain of either fact or metaphysical significance,” writes the Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw.

Napoleon is in theaters on November 22.

Let’s take a peek at what the critics are saying.

Vanessa Kirby and Joaquin Phoenix in “Napoleon,” premiering in theaters around the world on November 22, 2023.
“Napoleon” premiering in theaters around the world on November 22, 2023.

For more on Napoleon, check out these stories:

New “Napoleon” Trailer Unleashes Ridley Scott’s Historical Epic

New “Napoleon” Video Reveals Joaquin Phoenix’s Approach to Taking on Historic Emperor

Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon” Trailer Reveals Joaquin Phoenix as the French Conquerer

Featured image: Napoleon (JOAQUIN PHOENIX, center) looks onto the battlefield in Apple Original Films and Columbia Pictures theatrical release of NAPOLEON. Photo by: Aidan Monaghan


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